review by: Larissa Glasser
Moribund have nurtured Sargeist over the last couple of years, and understandably so. The band is in the unique position of picking up the black metal torch (and firespitting it) for a new generation of followers. The unholy trinity of Shatraug (Horna), Torog, and Horns (both of Behexen) have picked up Darkthroneís most canonical output (Transylvanian Hunger, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, and Under a Funeral Moon), and ably execute their own brood of Scandanavian blackhate.
This yearís reissue of the early demo Tyranny Returns sounded more varied, interesting, and creepier than Sargeistís "official" full-length debut, Satanic Black Devotion. On Disciple of the Heinous Path, Sargeist have eclipsed both of those releases with a more refined approach, and arguably prove themselves as musicians (!) Ė the songs are longer, the gears shift more often, and the infectious minor-melodic runs emphasize what the band set out to do without compromising their hateful croak and raw production.
For example, the second (and longest) track, "Remains of the Unholy Past," alternates between helicopter blast-attack, Maiden-esque gallop riffing, and epic warmarch. A little bit of range, applied with moderation and conviction, beckons the uninitiated listeners more assuredly. This does not necessarily mean keyboard or poodle-foo-foo intros / interludes. Just listen to this particular song for demonstration of the above stated principle.
"Cursed Blaze of Rituals" applies a slower dirge, and is emblematic of this bandís improved sense of creating mood. See, the easily distinctive output from Celtic Frost / Hellhammer (who of course had progenitors in Venom) still has a piercing and lasting effect on black metal, not just in chromatic riffing and structural sensibilities but also due to the fact that Thomas Gabriel Warrior took guitar distortion to a level not achieved since Hendrix, and tone became a tool of nefarious incantation. Coupled with that terrifying album art, there was NO PEER at the time of Celtic Frostís height. To see that bandís lessons replicated in Sargeistís latest release is reassuring in the face of so much rank-and-file mediocrity. With so many black sheep in the herd, how can one be distinctive? Although surpassing Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir isnít so much of a challenge these days, there should be more to BM than just dressing the part and flinging caca at organized religion. Technique is so important in metal, and although physical presentation dignifies the assertion of superiority, one must not be forsaken for the other. Sargeist have conquered this dilemma.
The title track to Disciple of the Heinous Path is further evidence that Sargeistís epics are the strongest cuts, oddly enough. This song in particular has one of the coolest dirge riffs, descending mournfully down the chromatic scale before it mutates into a ferociously convincing, Christ-hating blastmort.
True to form, live performances by Sargeist are EXTREMELY unlikely (at least in the U.S.), so then this black seed must be sown in dreaded bedrooms, suffocating in their unlight, isolation, and mustiness. Sargeist may also soundtrack certain nocturnal teenaged delinquencies committed in public, though this reviewer wonít condone that sort of thing Ė suffice it to say that one of the best things about black metal refined to this level is that it retains the ferocity and rebellion intrinsic to 80ís thrash, bastardizing and deforming it into simultaneously hateful and sublime sensibilities: anti-Christian, black as the Mordor orcís bunghole, corpsepainted beyond human recognition, and perhaps with some notoriety attached.
Know what to expect from Sargeistís latest. Hardly predictable, the band knows how to deliver traditional early 90ís kvlt hate while retaining enough present-day underground sensibility to please any hardliners amongst you.
Sheep to the slaughter, line on the left, one cross each. (9/10)